It is only second to the Amazon in terms of its critical role in safeguarding the planet’s future
The boreal forest (also called “taiga”) is the world’s largest land biome. It encircles the Arctic and is as vulnerable to climate change as the Amazon rainforest in South America.
Fire, one of the forest’s most serious hazards, paradoxically, is also critical to its survival and evolution. Fires release valuable nutrients into the forest soil and create holes in the tree canopy that allow sunlight to penetrate, contributing to the growth of new trees. But data gathered over the last few decades indicates that the frequency and intensity of fires have reached an abnormal level.
The boreal forest is threatened by wildfires. Extreme heat causes more lightning, which ignites the most destructive flames. The most common sort of fire in the boreal forest is a crown fire, which spreads quickly from treetop to treetop. Under the snow, fires can burn all winter, emitting deadly smoke and substantial volumes of carbon monoxide.
About Boreal Forests
These forests span eight countries: China, Canada, Japan, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
They thrive in high-latitude areas with freezing temperatures for 6 to 8 months, in which trees are capable of reaching a minimum height of 5 m and a canopy cover of 10%.
It is typically made up of coniferous tree species like pine, spruce, and fir, as well as some broadleaf species like poplar and birch. This biome, which accounts for around 30% of the total forest area, has more surface freshwater than any other. The forest, named after the Greek god of the north wind, Boreas, occupies 10% of the world’s land surface and has a significant impact on the world’s northern oceans and overall climate.
The boreal forest holds twice as much carbon as all tropical forests combined, thereby helping slow global warming. It also helps purify a massive amount of freshwater. It is second only to the Amazon in terms of its vital role in ensuring the future of the planet.
Threats it faces
- increasing forest fires,
- the melting of permafrost,
- intensifying insect infestations and
- warming temperatures.
What are drunken trees? Melting permafrost has caused the trees to tilt sideways. The soil will eventually erode away from the roots, causing the trees to fall. This bending and sinking are caused by permafrost degradation.
Furthermore, as the ground thaws, microbes eat away at the vegetation that has accumulated over thousands of years, producing carbon and methane emissions that contribute to the acceleration of global warming.
For survival, the boreal forest is rapidly shifting north, absorbing a part of the tundra and losing ground to the prairies at the southern edge. This displacement of an ecosystem can have serious consequences.